Everblue (Mer Tales #1)

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Everblue (Mer Tales, #1)

“She wanted her life to change… he wanted his to stay the same.

Best friends share everything with each other. Or do they? Seventeen-year-old Ashlyn Frances Lanski is tired of her boring, single life. Spending time with her best friend Tatiana, dreaming about kissing Tatiana’s twin brother Fin, and swimming competitively are her only sanctuary. The girls plan to leave their drab lakeside town far behind for college. But when Tatchi fails to return home after a family emergency, and no one knows where the family has gone, Ash chooses to do something drastic to find them.

Ashlyn is about to discover what she’d thought to be true her whole life, wasn’t, and the truth, too fantastical to imagine. Secrets lurk beneath the deep blue waters of Lake Tahoe, secrets that will change Ashlyn’s life forever.”

– Taken from Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11700785-everblue?from_search=true)

I’ll start this review with a very random comment: I’ve never, ever, heard a Tatiana being called Tatch or Tatchi, and I hope I never will, as it just doesn’t sound right (and I should know, given that’s my name).

As far as mermaids books go, this was an okay read. It was quite slow, only picking up in the final 10%. And I was not happy with some things, as they felt too easy. Case in point: the promising. Once a mermaid (or a merman) kisses someone, they are promised, that is, bonded for life. And that promising seems to completely change the couple involved. It’s a magical version of insta-love, in other words.

It was an interesting take on mermaids, in my opinion. It was a bit convenient that the heroine is already a swimmer at the beginning of the book. Toward the end, some things felt a bit weird especially if the couple’s situation was considered by an outsider. And it was not a very satisfying ending, as there is a cliffhanger of sorts.

I will read the next book in the series, but I’m not in a rush to do so.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Stripped

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Stripped

“So how did I get myself into this situation, you ask? Simple: desperation. When you’re faced with being homeless and hungry or taking off your clothes for money, the choice is easier than you’d imagine. That doesn’t make it easy, though. Oh no. I hate it, in fact. There’s nothing I’d like more than to quit and never go into another bar again, never hear the techno beat pulsing in my ears again, never feel the lecherous gazes of horny men again.

Then, one day, I meet a man. He’s in my club, front and center. He watches me do my routine, and his gaze is full of hunger. Not the kind of desire I’m used to though. It’s something different. Something hotter, deeper, and more possessive. I know who he is; of course I do. Everyone knows who Dawson Kellor is. He’s People Magazine’s Sexiest Man alive. He’s the hottest actor in Hollywood. He’s the man hand-picked for the role of Rhett Butler in the long-awaited remake of Gone With the Wind.

He’s the kind of man who can have any woman in the entire world with a mere crook of his finger. So what’s he doing looking at me like he has to have me? And how do I resist him when he looks at me with those intoxicating, changeable, quicksilver eyes?

I’m a virgin, and he’s an American icon of male sexuality. I’m a stripper, and he’s a man used to getting anything and everything he wants. And he wants me. I know I should say no, I know he’s the worst kind of player…but what my mind knows, my body and my heart may not.

And then things get complicated.”

– Taken from Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18108903-stripped?from_search=true)

This was one of those books that I decided to read on a whim after seeing some reviews pop up in a Goodreads group.

It begins quite slow, with an introduction to Grey, the main character, and to her family. Her dad is a very conservative pastor, while her mother tries to soften that conservativeness. When tragedy strikes, Grey and her father finally have an honest conversation which leads to Grey moving out and being disowned.

Sh goes to college on a scholarship, and when that scholarship runs out, she decides to work as a stripper after being unable to find any other job. Some reviewers found that hard to believe, but I didn’t really think about it (and now, I just can’t stop thinking about it…).

Dawon, the male lead is your typical hottie. Not only he’s hot, but he’s also very persistent. He refuses to simply let Grey go and goes out of his way to fight for her. In other words, he is a modern age Prince Charming. Where can I find one for myself?

While this book was nothing to write home about, it was a nice read. It doesn’t really pull you in, but it’s not a chore to keep reading it, if that makes any sense. I have to confess that the ending left me wanting another book, but, rationally, that’s not an option. It’s just that I wanted to see a little bit more of Grey after graduation and her career, rather than solely her romance with Dawson.

The whole thing with her dad could have been more explored, in my opinion. Their inevitable reunion felt a little too easy. I was expecting yelling and tears, but what I got was much more softer than that. There was no yelling and no tears if I remember correctly, and I don’t think that’s how it goes.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Fangirl

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Fangirl

“From the author of the New York Times bestseller Eleanor & Park.

A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love.

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan . . .

But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?”

– Taken from Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16068905-fangirl?from_search=true)

When I first read the synopsis of this book, I immediately connected with Cath. You see, I wrote fanfiction for several years and I can relate to immersing yourself so thoroughly in a world created by someone else that you want to borrow it.

The book started really well. While I couldn’t relate to Cath’s situation of having a twin that doesn’t want to share a room anymore, I really enjoyed the beginning of the book. After all, that is when everything is introduced, from plot to characters to scenario.

However, that didn’t last. At around 30%, I started wondering where exactly the author was going with it, as nothing seemed to really happen. There would be scenes and scenes of Cath writing, then talking to Reagan, her roommate, and Levi. There wasn’t, in my opinion, anything really being told. Instead, there was a series of descriptions of what was going on in Cath’s life. And it’s quite a lot. From her relationship with her twin sister to her dad’s issue, there is plenty going on.

After the middle of the book, I couldn’t really relate to Cath’s actions and reactions anymore. In fact, at points, I was actively disagreeing with her and thinking she was immature. I’m not going to spoil the scene, but it does involve the teacher mentioned in the synopsis above.

In my opinion, this could have been a shorter book. At points, I felt it dragged a bit, only to reach an end that wasn’t really satisfying.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Paranormalcy (Paranormalcy #1)

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Paranormalcy (Paranormalcy, #1)

“Evie’s always thought of herself as a normal teenager, even though she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through paranormal glamours.

But Evie’s about to realize that she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.

So much for normal.”

– Taken from Goodreads

This book had been sitting in my to-read shelf for ages. I only decided to read it as it fit a challenge and I found someone to read it with me. Right at the first scene, I was asking myself why on earth didn’t I read it before. I absolutely loved the first scene. Evie’s had a great attitude and sense of humor, and that scene was a great way to introduce the world building, which I found quite peculiar.

It also had a fast pace and some interesting characters. I was not happy with some of the author’s choices, but they made for a very touching moment at the end. While I had some issues with the choices made, I was really pleased with the fact that I couldn’t predict the twists nor the answers that were given by the end of this book. Some of the characters really annoyed me (why, yes Reth, I am looking at you).

Some of the choices that were made in this book have not yet entirely unraveled, which makes me really want to read the next book. Furthermore, there also quite a few questions that I want to see answered. As for the writing style, I really liked it. This book also had one scene that made laugh out loud, which is quite unusual for me.

I will definitely be reading the next book, I just don’t know when I’ll be able to read it.

Rating: 4 out of 5

The Summer I Found You

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The Summer I Found You

“All they have in common is that they’re less than perfect. And all they’re looking for is the perfect distraction.

Kate’s dream boyfriend has just broken up with her and she’s still reeling from her diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. Aidan planned on being a lifer in the army and went to Afghanistan straight out of high school. Now he’s a disabled young veteran struggling to embrace his new life. When Kate and Aidan find each other neither one wants to get attached. But could they be right for each other after all?”

– Taken from Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16094953-the-summer-i-found-you)

I’d like to thank NetGalley and Albert Whitman Teen for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

When I first read the synopsis, it made me think of bravely overcoming an adversity. In this particular case, we were talking of permanent issues. Kate has diabetes, a disease that does not have a cure (yet), and Aidan has lost his arm, and for that, there is no solution other than adapting to the new situation.

However, I was disappointed. I’ll start with Kate. I felt that her attitude toward her diabetes was justified up to a point. At first, the diagnosis sure is scary, especially for a teenager who still has her whole life ahead of her. But the book does not start with her diagnosis. It starts a year or so after that. I feel that, at that point, she should have come to terms with it or, at least, be less stubborn in her refusal to follow treatment, especially after landing in the hospital a couple of times.

Again, I get it that it is a hard diagnosis to face. But Kate’s attitude clashed terribly with the way I was raised. You see, I have a severe to profound hearing loss, which is progressive, and there is no stopping it. And I was not raised to let that bring me down. There are, of course, some low moments, but I learned how important it is to deal with the hand you were dealt. And I figure that everything has to be put into perspective. Does diabetes suck? Yes, it does. But there are so many worse diseases, where there’s nothing you can do but watch the person fade before your eyes. Reading Kate and her self-destructive tendencies was quite frustrating, and the fact that her parents weren’t more forceful in their approach was even more frustrating. I just couldn’t sympathize with Kate.

Moving on to Aidan. I felt that his reaction was more realistic. His whole future was thrown off course, as he was planning a career in the army. Besides, it was an extremely traumatic event. What I liked about him was that he was eventually able to accept the fact and move on. And his reaction at the climax of the book was very believable.

I was expecting more of this book. I couldn’t get into the book, which might have had something to do with the formatting (it was quite distracting, and I hope they solve this issue before publishing). And the characters didn’t really help. As this is, in my opinion, a character-driven book rather than plot-driven, the fact that Kate, one of the main characters, doesn’t really do anything until the very end of the book was a bit disappointing.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Bird With The Heart Of A Mountain

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Bird With the Heart of a Mountain

“I throw back my tumble of black hair, roll one bare shoulder forward, then the other. The stack of bangles on each wrist shimmies and slides as my hands rise like birds in flight. Set during the turmoil of the Spanish Civil War, sixteen-year-old Drina yearns to dance Flamenco. When she dances, she forgets who she is. She forgets what seems to be her legacy: I am nothing. I belong nowhere. Why does her mother forbid her to dance, the very thing that makes her feel alive? She wonders about the secrets her mother holds, about the rumored life she had before Drina was born – a story that somehow still holds them both prisoner. From the wandering Gypsy campagne to the vineyard estate of a paternal grandmother she has never known and the dance halls of Seville where Flamenco reigns, Drina fights to discover who she is and where she belongs. Not quite Gypsy, not quite Spanish, she must carve out an identity all her own and discover what it means to be a bird with the heart of a mountain. Full of mystery, loss and longing, this powerful novel brilliantly captures a young girl’s yearning and her adventurous journey to discover her true home.”

– Taken from Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18318639-bird-with-the-heart-of-a-mountain?from_search=true)

I’d like to thank NetGalley and Amazon Children’s Publishing for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

I’m not familiar with Spain nor with the Spanish culture. I do know that the Spanish Civil War was a huge human tragedy. And I do know that gypsies have a long history of persecution. In this book, set in war-torn Spain, we get a small glimpse of what it was like to be a gypsy, or gitano, during the Spanish Civil War. In Drina’s case, she if half-Spaniard and half-gypsy, she is caught between worlds.

I know that the year is only starting, but this book is a strong contender for one of the best written books of the year. I fell in love with the author’s writing style. I also loved the description of Drina’s dancing. By the end of the book, I was yearning to know more about the gypsies as a people, where do they come from, how they have endured centuries of persecution.

Going back to the story. Drina loses so much at the beginning, but she also gains quite a lot as the story unfolds. I was not entirely satisfied with the ending. Of all the choices Drina could’ve made, she made the one I didn’t want her to make. Let’s just say she took the hardest path. And the ending was the only reasons I didn’t give it 5 stars.

Even though this is an YA book, it is not meant to be read in one sitting. It is meant to be read in a slower pace, so that one can thoroughly enjoy the descriptions and the characters.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Endless

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Endless

“Jenny Kramer knows she isn’t normal. After all, not everybody can see the past lives of people around them.

When she befriends Ben Daulton, resident new boy, the pair stumble on an old music box with instructions for “mesmerization” and discover they may have more in common than they thought. Like a past life.

Using the instructions in the music box, Ben and Jenny share a dream that transports them to Romanov Russia and leads them to believe they have been there together before. But they weren’t alone. Nikolai, the mysterious young man Jenny has been seeing in her own dreams was there, too. When Nikolai appears next door, Jenny is forced to acknowledge that he has travelled through time and space to find her. Doing so means he has defied the laws of time, and the Order, an ominous organization tasked with keeping people in the correct time, is determined to send him back.

While Ben, Jenny and Nikolai race against the clock – and the Order – Jenny and Nikolai discover a link that joins them in life – and beyond death.”

– Taken from Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18157967-endless)

I’d like to thank NetGalley and Month9Books for providing me a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

At this point, it’s not clear whether or not this will turn into a series. Given the fact that several important questions went unanswered, I’m inclined to think so.

Now to talk about the actual book. It had a really good start, involving an Ouija board and a crypitc message. After the first chapter, however, the book became quite slow and only picked up the pace again at the end. It was really interesting to see the glimpses into the past, and understanding how they played a role in the present.

My biggest issue with the story was Nikolai. His permanence in the present time was not well explained for me. But I’m not going to delve furhter into this question so as not to spoil the story. But whenever he’d talk about being in the present, I would get extremely bothered. I also wish we could have seen more of Jenny’s penchant for art and I really wishe she was not such an outcast. It’s not that I wanted her to be a popular girl, with hundreds of friends. But she has so few people in her life that it becomes far too easy to keep secrets.

Rating: 3 out of 5